Simon, William L. 1930–
Simon, William L. 1930–
(William Leonard Simon)
PERSONAL: Born December 3, 1930, in Washington, DC; son of Isaac B. (a teacher) and Marjorie (a social worker) Simon; married Arynne Lucy Abeles, September 18, 1966; children: Victoria Marie, Sheldon M. Bermont (stepson). Education: Cornell University, B.E.E., 1954; Golden State University, San Diego, CA, M.A., 1982, Ph.D., 1983. Politics: Republican. Hobbies and other interests: Tennis, serving the crew of the square-rigged brigantine ship Pilgrim, Orange County Maritime Museum, and also the Star of India, San Diego Museum.
ADDRESSES: Home—Rancho Sante Fe, CA. Agent—Waterside Productions, 2191 San Elijo Ave., Cardiff-by-the-Sea, CA 92007.
CAREER: Writer and producer of film and television projects; George Washington University, Washington, DC, lecturer, 1968–70. Military service: U.S. Navy, 1954–58.
MEMBER: International Documentary Association, Rotary International, National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, Silver Circle, Writers Guild of America, American Film Institute, Eta Kappa Nu, Tau Beta Pi.
AWARDS, HONORS: Recipient of twelve Golden Eagle Film Awards, Cine Film Festival; gold medal, New York International Festivals for Freedom Foundation; IFPA Gold Cindy award; awards from the Berlin, Belgrade, and Venice film festivals, and numerous others.
(With Gil Amelio) Profit from Experience: The National Semiconductor of Transformation Management, Van Nostrand Reinhold (New York, NY), 1996.
Beyond the Numbers: How Leading Companies Measure and Drive Success, Van Nostrand Reinhold (New York, NY), 1997.
(With Rob Lebow) Lasting Change: Building the Shared Values that Make Companies Great, Van Nostrand Reinhold (New York, NY), 1997.
(With Gil Amelio) On the Firing Line: My 500 Days at Apple, HarperBusiness (New York, NY), 1998.
(With Brian K. Muirhead) High Velocity Leadership: The Mars Pathfinder Approach to Faster, Better, Cheaper, HarperBusiness (New York, NY), 1999.
(With Robert L. McDowell) Driving Digital: Microsoft and Its Customers Speak about Thriving in the E-Business Era, HarperBusiness (New York, NY), 2001.
(With Kevin Mitnick) The Art of Deception: Controlling the Human Element of Security, John Wiley and Sons (New York, NY), 2002.
(With Robert L. McDowell) In Search of Business Value: Insuring a Return on Your Technology Investment, foreword by Jeff Raikes, SelectBooks (New York, NY), 2004.
(With Jeffrey S. Yount) iCon: Steve Jobs, The Greatest Second Act in the History of Business, Wiley (Hoboken, NJ), 2005.
(With Gary E. Schwartz) The Truth about Medium: Extraordinary Experiments with the Real Allison Dubois of NBC's Medium and other Remarkable Psychics, Hampton Roads (Charlottesville, VA), 2005.
(With Kevin D. Mitnick) The Art of Intrusion: The Real Stories behind the Exploits of Hackers, Intruders, & Deceivers, Wiley (Indianapolis, IN), 2005.
(With Gary E. Schwartz) The G.O.D. Experiments: How Science Is Discovering God in Everything, including Us, Atria Books (New York, NY), 2006.
(With Rob Lebow) When You Grab a Cat by the Tail: Small Bursts of Inspiration for Busy People, Select-Books (New York, NY), 2007.
Also the author of more than six hundred film scripts and screenplays, including A Touch of Love, Setting Sail (documentary), Combat Vietnam (documentary series), and the feature films Fair Woman without Discretion, Majorca, and A Touch of Love. Contributor of articles to numerous newspapers and periodicals.
SIDELIGHTS: Washington-born William L. Simon enjoyed a highly successful literary career, writing more than six hundred scripts and screenplays for the film and television industry before he wrote his first book, a collaborative effort that was published in 1996, when he was sixty-six years old. In the years since, Simon has continued his hectic pace, achieving a reputation as one of America's most successful ghostwriters and compiling impressive sales for his writings about business and corporate subjects.
Among the many projects he has been involved in over the years are the award-winning documentaries A Touch of Love, which deals with the poor, Setting Sail a documentary about tall ships that is narrated by legendary television newsman Walter Cronkite, a series of documentaries called Combat Vietnam, and the feature films Fair Woman without Discretion, and Majorca.
Always ready to tackle new challenges, Simon changed tack in his career in the early 1980s. "As you grow older and wiser, you realize there are things that you'd like to know more about," he once told CA. As a result, Simon returned to university as a mature student, enrolling in graduate studies at Golden State University in San Diego, California. There he earned a master of arts degree in educational psychology in 1982 and his Ph.D. in communications the following year. Throughout this period, Simon continued to work in the film industry, and he wrote freelance articles for such publications as the Washington Post and USA Today. However, he began another phase in his career one day after high-tech industry executive Gil Amelio invited him to attend one of his lectures. Amelio was doing some teaching at the Stanford Business School. Simon recalled in his CA interview: "As I listened I thought to myself, 'This could be the basis for a book.' In fact, Amelio was thinking the same thing. That was why he had invited me to listen to him."
The two men collaborated on a business self-help book called Profit from Experience: The National Semiconductor of Transformation Management. Simon's next effort, Beyond the Numbers: How Leading Companies Measure and Drive Success, was a solo work. His third book, Lasting Change: Building the Shared Values that Make Companies Great was another collaborative effort. He worked with businessman Rob Lebow, the founder and chair of Lebow Company, on the 1997 book that recounted Lebow's secrets for management success—Lebow's Shared Values Process. Reviewing Lasting Change for Library Journal, Peggy D. Odom observed that the work "neatly summarizes management principles in recent years."
Simon teamed with Amelio again the following year to write On the Firing Line: My 500 Days at Apple. This 1998 bestseller is a candid, revealing, and fast-paced account of Amelio's turbulent tenure as head of the Apple Computer company. Business Week contributor Peter Burrows described On the Firing Line as a "compelling, if flawed memoir" in which "the ousted Apple boss gathers all the ammo he can find and fires back—taking aim at everyone from reporters … to such powerful figures as Microsoft Corp[oration] Chairman William H. Gates III and current Apple CEO Steven P. Jobs." Rick Tetzeli commented in Fortune (another target that Amelio skewered in his narrative) that On the Firing Line "offers a vivid picture of what it's like when a manager tries to tame an unruly culture—Apple's is the most chaotic."
Having mastered the art of working quickly and effectively, Simon completed four more books over the next four years. Apart from the breakneck pace at which he writes, what is particularly striking about Simon's output is the extraordinary range of subject matter he has covered. High Velocity Leadership: The Mars Pathfinder Approach to Faster, Better, Cheaper, written in collaboration with project manager Brian Muirhead, tells the story of how the National Aeronautics and Space Administration managed to achieve a stunning success in its 1997 Pathfinder Mission to Mars while coping with limited budgets and a tight schedule. Booklist contributor David Rouse praised High Velocity Leadership as "a dramatic account of the enterprise as it evolved and unfolded." Writing on his Web site Global Future Report, futurist Terry J. van der Werff offered similar comments and praised Simon's abilities as both a writer and a storyteller. "This is a gripping story from the first page," ven der Werff wrote. "High Velocity Leadership is filled with technological wonder, superb engineering design, conflict, and drama." The reviewer went on to point out: "This nook opens new ground by introducing 'VideoNotes on the Web' … where fifteen movie clips for parts of the mission can be seen, conveying considerably more information than a simple photo can."
Simon stuck with high-tech themes when in 2001 he and Microsoft executive Robert L. McDowell wrote Driving Digital: Microsoft and Its Customers Speak about Thriving in the E-Business Era. A Publishers Weekly contributor wrote that while this primer on how businesses can adapt to today's Internet-based technology does not have a lot of new information for younger readers, "old-school management may find this clear, helpful advice." Library Journal critic Steven Silkunas lamented that "given the rapidity of change within the computer industry, the book will have a relatively short shelf life." However, he also noted that much of the information offered "transcend[s] the current issues and practices" in industry.
The 2002 book The Afterlife Experiments: Breakthrough Scientific Evidence of Life after Death is, as the name suggests, an examination of the latest experiments to determine whether or not human consciousness survives death. Simon worked with Gary E. Schwartz, the director of the Human Energy Systems Laboratory at the University of Arizona, to recount and explain the scientific experiments Schwartz and his research team were conducting. "Armed with consummate authority … the book progresses through the lab's findings," a Publishers Weekly contributor reported. Meanwhile, William Beatty predicted in Booklist that "The Afterlife Experiments should provoke considerable discussions which … should be of value for further investigations in this controversial field."
With The Art of Deception: Controlling the Human Element of Security Simon sat down for a "tell-all" session with cyber-desperado Kevin Mitnick, one of the world's most notorious computer hackers. Mitnick, who at one time was among the Federal Bureau of Investigation's "most wanted men" and served time in prison for his crimes, explains how he breached computer security at some of America's best known companies and even gained access to sensitive government databanks. Joe Accardi, writing in the Library Journal, observed that the book includes "actual case studies, showing that even state-of-the-art security software can't protect businesses from the dangers of human error." Simon and Mitnick also collaborated on The Art of Intrusion: The Real Stories behind the Exploits of Hackers, Intruders, & Deceivers. This book includes numerous true stories of computer hackers who have broken into corporate computer servers. Library Journal contributor Accardi wrote that "informed readers can sit back and enjoy the stories of cybercrime." A Publishers Weekly contributor called the book "uniformly readable," adding that "some [of the stories] are quite exciting."
Simon collaborated with Jeffrey Young to write iCon: Steve Jobs, the Greatest Second Act in the History of Business. which updates Young's previous biography of the Apple Computer CEO. The book focuses on Job's career after being fired in 1985, from Job's founding of the Pixar animated film corporation to his return to Apple in 1997 and his subsequent development of the many innovations that led Apple to become a renewed force in the computer industry. Recorder contributor Anthony Paonita commented that the authors "try to capture both sides of the Apple CEO—the visionary and the tyrant." Writing in the Library Journal, Richard Drezen reflected that the authors leave "the reader to decide whether Jobs is a genius, a megalomaniac, or maybe both."
Simon and Gary E. Schwartz teamed up once again to write The Truth about Medium: Extraordinary Experiments with the Real Allison Dubois of NBC's Medium and other Remarkable Psychics. The book focuses on Schwartz's experiments with people who claim they can communicate with or see the dead. School Library Journal reviewer Judy McAloon considered The Truth about Medium to be "readily accessible to teens," adding that it "raises some fascinating questions." The G.O.D. Experiments: How Science Is Discovering God in Everything, including Us is another collaborative effort between Simon and Schwartz and delves into Schwartz's belief that science is providing substantial evidence for the existence of a "Guiding, Organizing, Designing" process that underlies everything in the universe. The authors discuss numerous discoveries and experiments, including Schwartz's experiments with a man who could tell the future via his dreams. A Publishers Weekly contributor wrote that some readers "no doubt will find Schwartz's blend of pop spirituality and pop science satisfying explanations of intelligent design."
Asked what advice he could offer to other writers who might seek to emulate his success, Simon once told CA: "I have a rather uncommon attitude that applies to my freelance work. I've learned that mastering the craft of writing is important, but the real thing that is far more important than that, the thing that distinguishes the successful person in the field from those who don't succeed is the dedication to get up every morning and do the work. It's this commitment to work that's essential."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, April 1, 1999, David Rouse, review of High Velocity Leadership: The Mars Pathfinder Approach to Faster, Better, Cheaper, p. 1372; March 1, 2001, David Rouse, review of Driving Digital: Microsoft and Its Customers Speak about Thriving in the E-Business Era, p. 1214; February 15, 2002, William Beatty, review of The Afterlife Experience: Breakthrough Scientific Evidence of Life after Death, p. 973.
Business Week, May 4, 1998, Peter Burrows, "From Sour Grapes to Sour Apples," review of On the Firing Line: My 500 Days at Apple, pp. 22-23.
Computer World, August 22, 2005, Matthias Thurman, review of The Art of Intrusion: The Real Stories behind the Exploits of Hackers, Intruders, & Deceivers, p. 32.
Corporate Board, January, 2000, review of Lasting Change: Building the Shared Values that Make Companies Great, p. 29.
Fortune, April 27, 1998, Rick Tetzeli, review of On the Firing Line, pp. 414-415.
Journal of Business Strategy, January, 2000, William L. Simon and Bob McDowell, "Business Re-Process Engineering: Microsoft and Its Customers Speak Out About Thriving in the E-Business Era," p. 5.
Library Journal, October 15, 1997, Peggy D. Odom, review of Lasting Change, p. 72; February 15, 2001, Steven Silkunas, review of Driving Digital, p. 179; August, 2002, Joe Accardi, review of The Art of Deception: Controlling the Human Element of Security, p. 128; January 1, 2005, Joe Accardi, review of The Art of Intrusion, p. 139; June 15, 2005, Richard Drezen, review of iCon: Steve Jobs, The Greatest Second Act in the History of Business, p. 81.
Publishers Weekly, February 26, 2001, review of Digital Driving, p. 70; February 25, 2002, review of The Afterlife Experience, p. 52; February 14, 2005, review of The Art of Intrusion, p. 66; February 13, 2006, review of The G.O.D. Experiments: How Science Is Discovering God in Everything, including Us, p. 77.
Recorder, August 19, 2005, Anthony Paonita, review of iCon.
School Library Journal, March, 2006, Judy McAloon, review of The Truth about Medium: Extraordinary Experiments with the Real Allison Dubois of NBC's Medium and Other Remarkable Psychics, p. 258.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch, April 26, 1998, "Amelio Says He Met His Match at Apple: The Company Humbled a Man Who Once Had the Swagger to Ask for $30 Million in Compensation," p. E2.
Washington Times, May 4, 1998, Mark A. Kellner, "Having Apple on Media Menu Healthy for Bottom Line," p. 7.
Global Future Reports, http://www.globalfuture.com/ (October 13, 2006), Terry van der Werff, review of High Velocity Leadership.
National Institute for Discovery Science Web site, http://www.nidsci.org/ (October 13, 2006), John Alexander, review of The Afterlife Experiments: Breakthrough Scientific Evidence of Life after Death.